By John Ruch
Sixty-four organizations and businesses have signed a ‘non-support decree’ for the controversial Atlanta Public Safety Training Center plan as part of a city council member’s intention to introduce a resolution of the opposition.
The list includes environmental groups like the Sierra Club, neighborhood groups like the East Atlanta Community Association, left-wing activists like Atlanta Antifascists, and even the Atlanta Roller Derby sports league. Many groups are local, while some come from other states or operate nationally and internationally.
The signatories were brought together by Margaret Spalding, executive director of the South River Watershed Alliance (SRWA), who says she did so at the request of the anonymous council member behind the next resolution. Three council members who opposed the installation during their campaigns last year — Liliana Bakhtiari, Jason Dozier and Antonio Lewis — did not respond to requests for comment. Lewis once said SaportaReport he made no comment on the motion for a resolution but supported “finding ways to come [to] a real solution.
The $90 million facility, which would train Atlanta police and firefighters and field services, is planned for 85 acres of the former Atlanta Prison Farm, a city-owned property on Key Road in the unincorporated county of DeKalb. The Atlanta Police Department has used part of the property for decades for a firing range and explosives disposal, but its selection for the sprawling training facility as part of a secret process by the city and The nonprofit Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) last year revealed surprised neighbors and DeKalb officials, generating huge controversy. The project has also been the target of a police reform and environmental protest movement called “Defend the Atlanta Forest”, which has been largely peaceful and legal, but has also involved trespassing and vandalism on the site. and at places such as APF headquarters.
Preliminary site work involving the removal of some trees is already underway while the APF seeks approval for a DeKalb County Land Disturbance Permit to begin full construction.
Spalding said part of the intent of the “non-support decree” is to show the diversity and breadth of opposition to the training center. She said the size of the list shows “the absurdity of rumors and unsubstantiated claims that opposition to the development of the training center on the former Prison Farm property is marginalized and/or mainly non-local extremists . There is plenty of evidence, decree of no support or not, that there is widespread, peaceful, diverse and local opposition to the project.
Spalding said she compiled the list in just four days — June 7-10 — and would have had more signatories with more time. She noted that many other groups joined in a statement last year calling on city council to vote against the APF lease underlying the development and that several neighborhood planning units and community groups also issued statements of opposition at that time, but could not join the decree on such short notice. “Suffice it to say, there are many more who would probably join,” she said.
The APF said in a written statement that it also had broad public support through elected officials and their vote to approve the plan last year.
“The vast majority of elected representatives of Atlanta’s 550,000 citizens – including two successive mayors and the entire City Council – have consistently and overwhelmingly endorsed the construction of the PSTC. [public safety training center] and situating it on the 85-acre land on Key Road that has been owned by the City for over a century,” the APF said.
Two organizations that signed the ‘non-support decree’ say environmental reasons are behind their concerns.
The Georgian chapter of the Sierra Club hopes the city will revoke the APF lease and instead follow its own urban design vision that preserves the Key Road site as part of the South Forest green space concept. River, said Nina Dutton, president of the nonprofit Environmental Atlanta Metro Group. South River Forest planning has just begun.
“The Weelaunee [South River] The forest, the proposed facility location, sequesters carbon, filters air pollution, mitigates flooding, helps keep city temperatures low, provides habitat for a diverse community of organisms and provides a place for people to enjoy and learn from the ecosystem they are part of,” Dutton said, referring to a Native American term for the area. “These benefits should not be discounted or taken lightly. The City of Atlanta should invest in our communities and our environment – this proposed facility would harm both.
Another signatory is the Buckhead-based Amphibian Foundation, a nonprofit that studies ways to save amphibians as many species face unusual rates of extinction. Mark Mandica, founder and executive director of the foundation, says SRWA informed his group of the plan for the training center.
“Our understanding is that this proposed development would negatively impact critical forest and wetland habitats for wildlife, including amphibians, in an area where wildlife is already under significant environmental pressure from development, environmental contaminants and other factors,” Mandica said.
Here is the full list of signatories to the non-support decree. They are local to Atlanta unless otherwise stated.
- Abolitionist Law Center (Pennsylvania/National)
- Abolitionist education network (local/national)
- Amphibian Foundation (Southeast Region)
- Atlanta Antifascists
- Atlanta Community Press Collective (local/statewide)
- Atlanta Creek League
- Atlanta Green Theater Alliance
- Atlanta Judicial Alliance
- Atlanta Roller Derby
- Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights
- Black Alliance for Peace-Atlanta (local/national)
- City in the forest
- Community hotline for incarcerated people (Florida)
- Community Movement Builders
- Jonquille Meadow Collective (Tennessee)
- East Atlanta Community Association
- Harm Reduction in East Tennessee (Tennessee)
- Cafe Ebrik
- Emory Ecological Society
- Emory Internal Medicine SADC Advocacy
- Environmental and Climate Justice Center (California)
- Fighting Toxic Prisons (National)
- First Aid Collective Knoxville, Tennessee
- First Aboriginal Justice E-Committee
- Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice (Florida)
- Solidarity with the prisoners of Florida (Florida)
- Food 4 lives
- Gainesville-Area Action for Environmental Justice (Florida)
- Georgia Conservation Voters (Local/Statewide)
- Glen Emerald Park Neighborhood Association
- Slide the pizza
- Global Environmental Justice Project (International)
- Grant Park Cooperative Preschool
- The mountain school
- Organizing Committee of Incarcerated Workers
- Lakota Horse Nation (Regional Lands/Sioux)
- The lucky penny
- rebel mariposas
- ATL Mosaic
- Patagonia Atlanta (local/national)
- PBC Environmental Coalition (Florida)
- Rain solutions
- Prison Ecology Project (national)
- RED Community Land Trust (Florida)
- Reforest ATL
- Rising Tide North America (domestic)
- Sabal Trail Resistance (southeast region)
- Save Atlanta’s Old Jail (Local/Statewide)
- Sierra Club Georgia Chapter (statewide/national)
- Sierra Club Metro Atlanta Chapter
- Atlanta Sober Rides
- Underground soil
- Southerners in New Ground (Local/Regional Southeast)
- South River Art Studios
- South River Forest Coalition
- South River Watershed Alliance (local/national)
- DeKalb Southwest Neighbors of the Atlanta Forest
- Starter Bikes at Georgia Tech
- Atlanta sunrise
- Muscogee Land Survival Resistance
- UCSB California Prison Environmental Justice Project